17 May, 2021

Caritas Internationalis is launching a special appeal to bring medical care to the population affected by the ongoing shelling in Gaza. Caritas Jerusalem is preparing to respond to the urgent needs of the thousands injured and the thousands of people forced to leave their homes either because they were destroyed or because they tried to save their lives.

“The bombings are extremely heavy. The people of Gaza have lived through many wars over many years, but everyone agrees that this time it is completely different. They are trapped in this densely populated strip of land at the mercy of intense air bombardment with nowhere to flee for safety.”

This is how Sr. Bridget Tighe, Secretary General of Caritas Jerusalem, described the situation in Gaza, where more than two million people live in an area of approximately 141 square miles.

A local woman waits her turn with her son, to get free healthcare services provided by Caritas Jerusalem team, at Buriej Refugee camp, central Gaza Strip. Photo by Asmaa El Khaldi/Caritas 2019

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been under a total blockade controlled by Israel with a small southern section controlled by Egypt. Therefore, civilians have nowhere to hide from bombardments and not even the possibility of fleeing as refugees by land or sea. “People try to save their lives seeking shelter in schools, where by 14 May, 17,000 had already found shelter.”

According to the local Ministry of Health, the total death toll in Gaza is currently 197 people, including 58 children and 34 women. The victims include a mother and four of her children, who were killed in an airstrike on residential buildings in the Al Shati Refugee camp, close to the Caritas clinic, which is currently closed. Due to repeated attacks on civilians and infrastructure, Caritas had to close the clinic because of the high risk of collateral damage. The shelling also destroyed large sections of main roads, preventing ambulances from transporting the wounded to hospitals.

“The continuing bombardment still does not allow Caritas Jerusalem to intervene, but once a ceasefire comes into effect we will provide out-patient trauma care and essential primary health care in our clinic,” Sr. Tighe said. The same applies to the clinic’s mobile units and medical teams, which in recent years have made it possible to bring medical care – especially trauma care for the injured – to populations in even the most remote and marginal areas, while also providing them with health and nutrition education.

Ahmed Abou Jamous, 13, poses beside his bicycle, at his home at Al-Shaboura refugee camp in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. Ahmed has been shot in his left leg, during the March of Return, 7 months ago. He got free medical treatment for his injury by the Caritas Jerusalem team in Gaza Strip. Photo by Asmaa El Khaldi/Caritas 2019

But in addition to the security conditions necessary to act, Caritas needs adequate resources to provide medical care, food, and other basic items to the affected populations in the different areas of the Gaza Strip. “At this moment of blind violence, Caritas Internationalis will continue to help the most vulnerable, providing them with any help which is necessary to alleviate their suffering,” said Aloysius John, Secretary-General of the Confederation.

As we stand before this new humanitarian tragedy, Caritas Internationalis is asking its benefactors to support the work of Caritas Jerusalem.

“We thank you for the help you can give to us and to these desperate people. Please help us and keep us in your prayers,” added Sr. Bridget.


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